It's good to be back, Gleeks! After taking a Thanksgiving hiatus, I have returned to find that "Glee" is back in top form. In fact, last night's episode called "Special Education," felt very reminiscent of the magic the first season provided. Of course, things definitely aren't the same with the students and staff of McKinley as they were a year ago, so let’s dive in.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait for a season finale to see New Directions get to sectionals. But before the club faced off against rival groups The Warblers and The Hip-sters, there were shake-ups and scandals to deal with. Under the guidance of Emma, Will opts to make some changes for New Directions in the competition. Instead of having Rachel, Finn and Mercedes take center stage as per usual, he conjures up the idea of having Mike and Brittany show off their dancing skills (always a good idea), as well as having Santana, Quinn and Sam sing their hearts out (but, more on that later.)
If Mr. Schue’s motive was to win Emma back, it certainly didn’t work out that way. After turning down his request to be his date to sectionals in order to be honest to her dreamy dentist beau Dr. Carl (John Stamos) we later learn that she has (SPOILER) married him in Vegas! While it’s surprising that the usually uptight Emma did something so impulsive, it’s nice to see her go after what she really wants. It’s not that she was intentionally trying to be cruel, it’s just that his timing with her just couldn’t have been more off. Sigh.
Still, he was hardly the only one to mend a broken heart last night. An already-devastated Rachel (who was, unsurprisingly, peeved with the prospect of having no solos for sectionals) got herself into a heap of trouble after learning the truth, that before she dated Finn, he hooked up with Santana. Rachel’s jealousy and inability to see the big picture (Finn didn’t do it while they were dating, after all) got the best of her and she made out with a newly nice (well, to Jews, anyway) Puck. It’s bad enough Finn had to lose another girlfriend to cheating, but to the same guy, no less. In turn, an understandably upset Finn then dumps Rachel. SIGH.
Speaking of cheaters, Artie had his suspicions about girlfriend Brittany, who besides being crippled by fear about her upcoming number, was spending a lot of time rehearsing with Mike Chang. Tina’s insecurities about her boy rubbed off on Artie and, in turn, he thought Brit had gone astray (she thankfully, was not an adulterer.)
Meanwhile, over at the Dalton Academy (where apparently all the walking and running in the halls is done strictly in slo-mo), Kurt found himself struggling to even fit in there. Whereas he was always trying to show how bright his star shined over at McKinley, he quickly learned Dalton is all about blending in with the crowd. His once-again outcast status has him reach out to former glee-mate Rachel, who sweetly bonds with him throughout the episode, including their stirring side-by-side solos of "Don’t Cry For Me Argentina" from the musical "Evita."
But let’s get around to the big moment we were all waiting for: sectionals! The beyond-adorable senior citizen glee club The Hip-sters performed a touching rendition of the '80s ballad "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics. They were followed by the oh-so-good Warblers, who once again made a recent hit song even better than the original (this time it was Train’s "Hey, Soul Sister.") I know saying this might (deservedly) earn me a slushie to the face, but I can’t help but love The Warblers! Their attitude, song selections, vocal arrangements and, okay, the swoon-worthy Blaine, make them downright irresistible.
Of course, our hearts still belong to New Directions, who despite some tense moments and new members (they welcomed aboard classmate Lauren Zizis, who just weeks ago gave everyone a terrible case of monkey flu), brought down the house with their renditions of "(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life" (sung by Quinn and Sam, complete with longing gazes) from "Dirty Dancing" and Amy Winehouse’s nitty-gritty "Valerie" (with Santana attempting her very best "Wino" impression.)
The numbers (There was no explanation as to why New Directions got to sing two ditties, compared to the other glee clubs who only had one. But, hey, we're not complaining!) were good enough to have the gang place in first….tied with The Warblers! Yes, the two clubs will be facing off at regionals, Gleeks. Oh, it is on!
As if that wasn’t a high enough number to end the night on, "Glee" went and covered my personal favorite hit from 2010, Florence + the Machine’s unstoppable "Dog Days Are Over." From the cute choreographed claps to the unconventional (but oddly fitting) choice to have Tina and Mercedes sing the tune, I wish they’d save this one for regionals. It was a winner.
Check out Jim Cantiello's soulful "Glee"-cap below!
What did you think of "Special Education," Gleeks? Do you think Rachel will make things right with Finn? Will Kurt ever come back to New Directions? Does the gang have a shot against The Warblers? Let us know in the comments section and on Twitter!